Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Picture of a Timeless Young Man

I spent an evening in the drawing room and this is what I realized. You cannot insulate yourself from who you are for way too long. Despite your efforts to deceive yourself, the real ‘you’ remains unscathed. I chanced upon the eyes of hell and what did I see- a dark blue book that has a picture of a retiring gentleman who never hurts anyone’s feelings unintentionally. There was a sense of mystery when I looked at that book. It filled me with profound thrill so much so that I could not articulate what it was, that threw me in a state of wicked frenzy. To this day when I examine myself, I am all the more certain that this dark moment marks the turning point of a dangerous kind of innocence. It is unknown and unheard off. It is revealed only to those who wish to reject the tree of good and evil and discover the tree of life. 

The Picture of Dorian Gray is in the mirror. It is sufficient to open your eyes to the mental sensation. There is no need to visualize the descriptions of the passages in the novel. Wilde is not quite at home with his sensitivity because he feels that the world is not ready for the poetry of warm emotions. Yet he cannot deny them. How does he bear this conflict? His novel is testimony to how the split occurs. Does it occur in one’s psyche or is there a conscious sense of disparity in one’s being? How would acceptance follow? His only novel undresses the binaries that human beings have come to sublimate. It is more than what Wilde could be because ‘’mystery is in the visible and not in the invisible”.   If you cannot see, you do not know what is there. If you can conceive of that which you cannot see, then it exists devoid of enigma as an idea in print. If you can see an image and would like to understand it, you would like to judge it all the same. It is enigmatic and hence arrests your curiosity. 

In ‘’The Picture of Dorian Gray”, Lord Henry is a hypnotic cynic who speaks to the young male reader. His words are at once flippant, witty and petulantly profound. He mocks at the tendency to worship virtues that are simply practices of convenience. This work is relevant even today when old dogmas are replaced by new ones. What was considered noble, is now barbaric; what was once considered romantic is now perceived to be a sign of weakness but one gets the feeling that beneath the tough exterior of the machine age, there is a craving for the natural processes that keeps us warm devoid of the alienation that we have hitherto come to experience. 

Hypocrisy in contemporary times lies in denying this craving for personal reunion and holding in high esteem professional supremacy. The smart phones, social networking sites and instant messages have substituted personal interaction by promoting technology-enabled extroversion. We live thus in monumental stereotypes groping in the evanescence of trends worshiped and fashioned by the dictates of commerce. In so doing, we lose all vitality and synthesize our appetites. Thinking has taken a back seat and the new age iconoclast is a human being of quaint tastes inexorably socialistic. Such has come to define the times we live in. We do not know what anti-hypocrisy is because we never fully understood hypocrisy. A nice individual is considered to be a confidence trickster. Hypocrisy has merely assumed different forms. These forms are more complicated than ever. Duality of Victorian England that Wilde reveals is just fundamental to the complexities governing our existence. They multiply with experience till sincerity becomes elusive. As Wilde himself says, “Little sincerity is a dangerous thing; too much sincerity would prove fatal.” Every time I read this novel, my perspectives only increase because there is in it a thought much larger than what a message can convey. It is inconsistent and inconstant, which is why it cannot be brought down to a terrible moral that Wilde said would be revealed not to the puritan but only to those who are pure at heart. It is the picture of a timeless young man.


Varun said...

Wonderful article. "Mystery lies in the visible and not in the invisible.". How true...!! I suppose that you meant partly visible, i.e. it reveals just enough to let you know that it is there but not completely, or else it would cease to remain a mystery. "We do not know what anti-hypocrisy is because we never fully understood hypocrisy.". Hahaha... Good one. And yes, the novel speaks to the reader, if only the reader is willing to listen. The transformation of Dorian Gray... Although more than transformation, it was just a side of him that was brought to the surface. The point, I suppose was that most people are the way they are because of the constraints imposed by society. What the book reveals is if one were to take away those constraints, how would man truly behave? In Dorian Gray's picture taking away the "constraints" that he imposed on himself, Wilde reveals us to the other side that could completely overwhelm us. So in a way, everyone leads a life of hypocrisy. Take away the barriers and ones true nature will reveal itself...!!!

Brilliant article again...

Unknown said...

"The Picture of a Timeless Young Man" is about the immortality of the mask and the mortality of the man behind the mask. We discussed this threadbare. Dorian Gray is the transcendental young man that surpasses the character in the novel. He is at once a reaction and at once a consequence. He is a reaction to those with "the holier than thou attitude" and its consequence in the form of hedonism.

The moment of pleasure affects the threshold. It seems easier to the hedonists to make a commodity out of lovers because that way they think they can overcome their fear of losing that special someone. In reality they can never run away from it and come face to face with the double edged sword. They cannot appreciate the pleasure that they gladly would have having exhausted that passion. So, they want more of it. They will never get enough of it. They will never know what real love is because to them lovers do not exist. With a romance sterilized and a culture that's decadent, man chooses to be a beast because he is scared of letting go off the saint.